Posted on July 20 2009
So many people have asked to learn more about us. Who are you? How did you start? What’s coming next? Why don’t you have petites? Will you hire me?
If you’re reading this blog you probably already have a basic understanding of what we are tying to do: change the apparel industry by insisting on fair wages, humane working conditions, and ecological responsibility as the core of our business, not a corporate footnote.
Those of us who started Fair Indigo grew up in this industry and saw first-hand a couple of things. #1: Wow, people buy a lot of clothes! And #2: Wow, people who make clothes have pretty difficult lives. Let’s change this.
The defining moment for me came in Thailand, 1998. Working for a huge apparel corporation, touring a sweater factory in 98 sweltering degrees, fantasizing about returning to my air-conditioned luxury hotel in Bangkok. A knitter, whose name I never learned but pictured here (the middle one), said in broken English with the most sincere smile, “thank you, I like to make more sweaters for you.”
While this seemingly innocent offer was called “so sweet” or “cute” by my co-workers, it profoundly impacted me. Here was a woman knitting 9 hours a day, 6 days a week in a climate where no one even understood the concept of a sweater. She could sometimes finish 50 sweaters in a workday. At least 15,000 Americans were wearing sweaters knit by this woman they never met. Yet she was likely more grateful than any one of us wearing the sweat of her labor on our backs. As thanks, her income allowed her to buy enough rice to feed her family. Not much more.
From this day forward, I never looked at another t-shirt or sweater or pair of jeans or wallet again without thinking about the tired hands that created it. This visit, by a wide-eyed 28-year-old wowed by his company’s sending him to exotic Thailand, began the journey that launched Fair Indigo in September, 2006.
In this blog, we, the tiny team at Fair Indigo, would like to share more stories with you. Put you in contact with the people who work so hard every day so that you can “stay warm” or “look cool.” Thank you for listening. Thank you for sharing.